Monday, June 11, 2007

20 team College Nationals Format

OK I wanted to spread my ideas around and not post every other day but I really want to get this idea out. It is somewhat new and someone has probably already thought of it. In any event, I am going to pretend its mine.

So instead of having only 16 college teams at nationals, I think that there should be 20. This will have a huge impact on the teams that go to nationals and I think it will make teams happy.

For starters, give every region 2 bids to nationals. This alone will make a lot of folks happy because it will give every region at least two teams to go to nationals. This is how club does it and there aren't too many debates at the club level of who gets to go to natties and who doesn't. For the remaining 4 bids, give them out as strength bids using whatever algorithm is currently in place. This algorithm uses something along the lines of, if you have a team make semis you get a strength bid but then if your region's 2nd/3rd team at nationals doesn't make quarters you don't get it or something confusing. All I know is that every region will get two bids and there will be 4 strength bids for the teams that deserve it. I think that size bids should be scrapped because they don't really make a difference. I mean the regions that usually get size bids are the metro east, the great lakes, the south and the northeast and I am sorry but those regions are the bottom 4 of 8 regions, at least in the last few years save Brown. You could keep the size bids and drop the strength bids or do a 2 and 2 mixture, fine. I for one think size bids are weak, but thats just me.

Ok match, now we have 4 extra teams, what are we gonna do with them? I wish I had a magic wand to say we would use the same field space, but thats not the case. To do this, you are gonna need 8 fields for nationals per division or 16 total fields. Right now there are usually only 12 offered for nationals and this is something I can't get around verbally. The only logical way I see of getting this figured out is to require that if a university or organization wants to house nationals, they have to be able to have 16 fields available. Now, I don't know what schools have this amount of field space but I do know that with some good convincing, Yale could put together 16 fields. I am not saying I want to have nationals here, because our fields suck but at leat we have the space. I think that other universities could offer similar space. I remember a lot of empty space at nationals in 2006, and I think with enough careful planning we could get 4 more fields in there. Maybe not in Corvalis, maybe not at OSU, but I think that 16 fields is not too much to ask. Centex does it with 40 (open and women's) teams, maybe folks don't want nationals in Texas (heat stroke much) but places like Devens, MA, which held nationals in 2001, could house more than enough fields. What, aren't like 70 teams on 27 fields going to boston invite next weekend? So I think that having 4 extra fields is not too much to ask, especially considering that 8 extra teams would get to go.

So now there are 20 teams instead of 16, how do you organize rounds? Well, with 20 teams, instead of having a pool on a bye, you just have to have a seed on a bye. With 16 teams a pool takes a breather per round so you have 4 teams off at one time. With 20 teams you have the 1 seeds, 2 seeds, etc... take a bye and then you still have 4 teams off during each round. You might have to shorten rounds a little bit because you will have to have 5 rounds instead of 4 but I don't think this will be an issue. As it stands now, you have rounds that last 2 hours each with a 30 minute break in between. With games to 15, I think 2 hours is good, but if they were 1:45 with 15 minute breaks instead you would save a lot more time and would be done by 6:15p if you started at 8:30a. I know that nationals wants to look professional with long rounds and breaks and what not, but at the expense of teams not being there? Now this also sounds a bit grueling, what with 4 pool play games and 1:45 minute rounds with 15 minute breaks but that is more or less what Centex, Southerns, Terminus, Pres Day, and TiV are all like and I don't hear folks complaining. Also, its only 4 games instead of 3. There aren't good tournaments where you only have to play 3 games on saturday, except Santa Barbara and Stanford and maybe some others. My point is, 4 games should not be that tough for good teams and if they have been doing it all year then they should be able to do it on friday at nationals. Plus, its only 1 more game to win natties anyway. You still have the same pre-quarters, quarters, semis and finals. I am not totally sure about consolation games, but I am sure they can be worked out with careful planning and scheduling, what I think Will Deaver should and is doing the month before nationals.

I guess my main overall opinion is that with 4 extra teams all the "should bes" will be at nationals. This year there wasn't too much debate concerning who wasn't there, but there was one team that shoulda been, Santa Barbara. It sucks to see a team not make nationals when they only lost 16-14 to the regional winner who went on to make the finals at nationals. Also, by eliminating the size bids, you will distill the talent and give the power house regions the representaion they deserve while not taking bids away from other regions. I suppose that this is a lot of added work for only 4 more teams and usually there is only 1 maybe 2 teams a year that should be at nationals that are not. In 2006 it was Carleton, in 2005 it was Dartmouth (lost 13-14 in the game to go), in 2004 it was UCSB/UCSD (controversial I know, but 3 shoulda come out of the SW), but I suppose one criticism that has got to bug Willy D is the idea that Centex is a better tournament. I don't think anyone can refute this, the best 24 teams in the country go to Texas and the winner is usually 1 or 2 in the country (Centex curse is now non-existent). I think that UPA college nationals should strive to match the level of competition that Centex has already achieved. 4 more teams means that the UPA top 25 will actually mean something because all the teams that should be at nationals will be at nationals and teams that are good at tournaments, not single games, will make it to the finals. I know that Florida was a great team last year, but nationals for them was a joke. They could have Tim and Kurt play every point and not worry because they would never have to play more than 3 games in a day. Nationals was not the grueling competition that it should be. Take a look at Club, 2 bids per region, 3 pool play games, then 2 more tough power pool games, then 3 more games to become #1 in the country. That is 8 games, and I am only suggesting 7 maybe 8 if some prequarters juggernaunt makes it all the way. I think it is kinda funny that the UPA is trying so hard to expand the sport and develop programs everywhere but they are not expanding the number of teams at nationals. You can't expand the bottom portion of the sport without developing the top. As it stands now, there are some regions where if you aren't Stanford or Orgeon, CUT or Wisconsin, etc... you will never play ultimate on Memorial Day and I think more teams can potentially change this.

I think that nationals will be a more exciting tournament with 20 teams instead of 16 and there might be some upsets. I think the best round would be quarters because for the most part, quarters is not much of a round. Other than the Florida/CUT quarter finals, there wasn't much competition. Stanford beat Texas 15-11, Wisconsin 15-9 over Oregon, and Colorado 15-10 over georgia. How awesome would it be if UCSB had been there and fought Stanford 15-13, or a regional rematch with Colorado, this time without high winds. Who knows? CUT of 2006 might have knocked off Staford in quarters in 2006 instead of Oregon losing, the possibilities are endless. I think 4 extra teams would a fantastic experience both for the teams and the audiences and I think that teams would relish the oppurtunity to get 4 more teams there, even if it meant paying $4, 5, 10 more per person to go to nationals. My thoughts.

match diesel


Breathing said...

well argued.

One point you imply that I think is important:

More teams at nationals means more experience for that third team in a region that is having a hard time breaking out/up. More teams means more folks getting more experience playing the best ulti.

To me, a city level player, this means more teachers with nationals experience teaching kids, improving the game everywhere.

Call it a trickle down effect.

Daniel said...

I agree with the overall idea. I would propose one change in the format. Drop the last place team from each pool (as they do now) and put the remaining in a 16 team bracket. This is how Easterns was ran when it was the most competitive tournament in College Ultimate. I guess the con is that the reward for winning a pool is somewhat diminished, but there still is an advantage for getting to play a 12-16 seed.

michael said...

See thats tricky business. If you win your pool and you are a solid team (with the current system) your quarters matchup should be fairly win able. There are rarely quarter finals upset (save 2006). However, with 4 more teams there, the quarter finals round would be more exciting and you would get more 15-13 games over 15-9. I dunno how i feel about the whole 16 team bracket. That might complicate things with consolation games as far as field space are concerned, but if excess fields are available I suppose it would work. I for one don't like the 16 team bracket format because it does not reward winning your pool. I also like the idea of having pre-quarters and a round off for teams that get the 1 seed out of pool play.